Before I had Kayla, I would secretly judge parents who bribed their kids into doing what they wanted. I said to myself: omg, I'm never going to do that! My kid will know what's right from wrong because I'm going to teach him/her.
Yeah, that plan didn't pan out so well.
It's hard rationalizing with toddlers who are, by nature, slaves to their impulses. They live in the here and now so compromises usually don't work and for real yo, I'm not above using bribery and/or threats to get Kayla to do something if the situation fits. Of course, this is all within reason; I would never bribe her with bad things or threaten to send her to bed without dinner but if it means that we can calmly put drops in her eyes by using Smarties as a reward, then bring on the Smarties. In fact, I went out and bought a whole box at Costco since I discovered that Smarties are a big deal to my kid. Like, so big that she went from being a screaming, twisty, arm flailing kid who didn't want us to put drops in her eyes to a smiling, happy, wide-eyed ball of sunshine as soon as I said the word "Smarties". I damn near taped the box to my forehead as I struggled with putting those drops in her eyes.
When it comes to threats, I will threaten to take away her Elmo doll or other toys if she doesn't stop whatever bad behavior she's doing. Two things I will not tolerate is bad behavior (hitting, biting etc) or rude back-talk. You let that shit go at this age, they'll always do it and it'll get worse as they get older. I have never called my mom a bitch or mouthed off to her; even when I was a crazy, rebellious teenager, thought I knew it all, went out at all hours of the night and did all sorts of bad things, I knew my limits and if I ever mouthed off to my mom that would be the end of me. I would get it far worse if I cussed her out than if I stayed out until 5am. This is because my mom never tolerated that crap; I would get the beat down if I crossed that line and while I would never spank Kayla, I certainly don't put up with that behaviour so I nip that shit in the bud quick.
I try to be a fair parent; if Kayla refuses to comply, I will give her a choice (both of which I'll be happy with the result). I found rather quickly that at this age, toddlers want to assert their independence so if you position it so that it seems they're the ones who made the choice, they're more likely to happily go with it instead of throwing themselves facedown and freaking out.
In all cases, Kayla will only get one warning with an explanation of the consequence. If she doesn't listen, they're gone for the day. She can scream or cry all she wants but I will always follow through. To be honest, Kayla's screaming or crying doesn't bother me in the least if she's being bad. She can sit there and freak out for a half hour if she wanted and I'll just go on about my business. She used to do that quite a bit at the mall when she was around 1 year old and I would sit or stand there waiting for her to finish her tantrum, pick herself up from the floor and eventually return to my side. Sometimes I would wait there for up to 20 minutes while other parents walked by me with a judgemental expression on their faces. I once looked at these judgemental moms who were pushing their babies in the stroller and said: "oh don't worry - you'll get here."
In the coming weeks, we'll be getting Kayla a new big-girl bed and I'm totally expecting her night routine to go out the window. I don't know about other parents, but I cherish the time when Kayla goes to bed because although I love spending time with her and she's all kinds of hilarious, she is a handful and at times, she can be quite exhausting. Never have I seen a kid with so much energy. So when she's finally free from the walls of her crib, I fully expect her to be wandering around at night and getting into all sorts of trouble which means my peaceful nights will be no more.
I'm collecting an arsenal of tried and true bribes so if you can think of any suggestions, I'm not beyond trying them and send them my way.